Heart Work with PBJ

48. There's A Name for That

January 19, 2022 Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson Episode 48
Heart Work with PBJ
48. There's A Name for That
Show Notes Transcript

Do you find yourself depleted after serving others?

Do you find that the work you once loved is now wearing you thin?

Do you serve with your empathy meter on high most days and find yourself left with nothing more to give?

Friend, there is a name for that.

In this episode of Heart Work with PBJ, Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson (Dr. PBJ), shares her personal experience with Compassion Fatigue helping you to define the term and to determine if you are personally impacted by the phenomenon.

Check out this free workshop by Dr. PBJ-  3 Steps to Disrupt Burnout

To connect with Dr. PBJ, go to www.aspoonfulofpbj.com

Do you need a dynamic transformational speaker?  Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson is ready to serve.  Check out Dr. PBJ Speaks

Follow me on IG @drpatricebucknerjackson for #aspoonfulofpbj every Monday.

Support the show

Hey friends, welcome to another episode of Heart Work with PBJ, where we are disrupting cycles of burnout for people who give everything to everybody, and don't have a whole lot for themselves. I'm Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson, but you can call me PBJ. And I am so so honored, always honored. I say this every time but y'all, I mean it. I'm so honored that you would take this journey with me, that you would allow me to share with you and you will share that with me. This is our community. And this is the place where we come to be refill. So thank you for joining. Listen, wherever you're watching, if you're watching on YouTube, or if you're listening on your favorite podcast platform, please be sure to subscribe, leave a comment. So I know that you're out there, I want to hear from you. But also to help us get this message out. Okay, y'all, let's dig in a little bit, I just I want to share with you, I want to share with you a little bit today. So let's get into our episode. In the episode today, I'm going to share some personal experiences with you. Before we get in, I do want to give you a trigger warning. If you have worked with me over the years, especially through some student crises, I'm going to talk about some of that today. So just take care of yourself. If that's not a place that you want to go to or hear about or be a part of, if you have supported others or been through your own trauma, I want you to take care of yourself today. As I tell, share some things that I've been through, I know that that can be triggering for you. So I just want you to know and be aware of where we're going today. And I want you to just kind of take care of yourself as much as you need to Okay. The reason why I want to share with you today is because I began to think about when especially when I was in the rock bottom of burnout and not understanding how I got them. I thought about all the years before that, because it didn't it wasn't just a moment where it happened, there was a build up to that point, I thought about all those years that I just kind of pushed through, suffered through and didn't know that there was a name for what I was going through. You may be feeling exhausted spiritually, emotionally, physically, you may be experiencing consequences in your body headaches or stomach issues or back pain, you may be experiencing emotional consequences, you may find that even the way you approach your family and loved ones, you may be a little bit more sharp or a little bit more emotional, or, you know, the emotions that you are experiencing right now are not necessarily your norm. And it's especially this part, even towards the people that you serve. So your students or your patients or your clients or whoever you're serving, you find yourself struggling to show up there, whether that be physically or mentally or emotionally, you find it hard to continue showing up. I remember thinking man, I really have to struggle for my smile. I really have to struggle for my smile. You know, my smile is one thing that a lot of people identified that blesses them. And I remember feeling like I was forcing my smile. But I didn't know what didn't have a name for what I was dealing with. You know, I didn't I didn't know how to label it. I didn't know what was going on. I just thought I was tired. And I thought it came with the territory and came with the work. But I'm here to encourage you and let you know that there is a name for it. And it's called compassion fatigue. When your empathy meter is constantly on when you are serving in a way and serving people who are going through trauma, or have been through trauma, and your empathy meter is constantly on high. You can find yourself in the midst of compassion fatigue, you know, and we'll talk more about the term and what it means. But traditionally, this term is something that's attached to police officers who deal with child abuse cases or deal with sex trafficking cases, soldiers or military folks who have been to war and have seen the suffering of others in other countries. That makes sense to us. right that there would be some compassion fatigue is not PTSD. It's different. It's actually not diagnoseable. Right now, in the D, DSM. It's not diagnoseable. But it is recognized in the psychology community as a real thing, similarly to burnout, it's not diagnoseable. But we know that it's real. And and we understand why compassion fatigue would be attached to those assignments, those people those professions, but I'm here to say that it's not just soldiers. It's not just police officers. It's not it is every day, teachers, educators, nurses, professors, student affairs professionals, social workers, everyday folks, especially after the pandemic, when everybody has been touched by trauma in one way or another. Everyone has felt afraid for their health and for their safety. Everyone, many folks have lost somebody recently. Compassion fatigue, we have to extend our definition now, because it's not just for those folks who face the very extreme of our society every day. But more professionals are facing trauma on a daily basis in their profession. And they're struggling with compassion, fatigue. I'll never forget the day. I still call this the worst day of my career. And there have been some tough days, not all tough days. I'm so grateful for my work, and I love education. But this was the toughest day. This was the toughest day, I was meeting with a group of students, I was serving as dean of students at a university at the time. And I was meeting with a group of students who were protesting, and I was trying to understand what those students needed and how we could serve them better. And this was a very important meeting. So when my team came in to disrupt the meeting, I couldn't understand why they would because they knew that this meeting was my priority. But my assistant said that Jackson, you got to go over to the police department on campus. And I said, Do I have to go right now what's going on? We don't know what's going on. But our chief of police asked for you to come right now. So I apologize for those students. I asked my team to get them rescheduled, went over to the police department. When I got there, I was ushered into a conference room. And there were so many police officials in that conference room. And I knew something bad had happened. But I didn't know what it was so much going on. So many people on phone call so many people having conversations. So I just went in and I sat down. And I knew that our Chief of Police was a good friend of mine and was a good friend. And I knew that she would come fill me in when she could. At some point she came over. And she gave me a list and she said I need you to find out if these people were in class today. I didn't ask any questions. I took the list and I got to work, calling faculty members calling roommates calling friends trying to track the whereabouts of the people on the list for that day. It didn't take long for me to realize that we had a huge tragedy on our hands. It didn't take long for me to realize that the work that I was doing was helping the police identify people. We move that operation from the police department to our College of Nursing because the tragedy was connected to our College of Nursing. Eventually, I found out or learned that five of our nursing students died that day in a car accident on their way to their last day of clinicals. To our nursing students were severely injured, critically injured that day, in a car accident. I went from working to identify who went to class who was around to breaking the news to some parents who were calling ahead of feeling that it was their child. You know, sir, this is Dr. Jackson from so and so University. Yes, sir. I just wonder if is my child, are you safe? Can you pull over? Was her name was her birthday? I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. went from that to working with our communications folks to put together an email that we could send out to our university to Let them know what happened. I went from that to a roomful of nursing students and faculty and standing before them, and for the very first time reading the names of the students who had died. And the students who were injured that day, I'd never forget standing on that stage. In the watching the sea of faces. My friend, our director of counseling was holding my hand and the cries that came out. As I read his name, left, that moment went straight in front of a news camera, because by then, the news was on that campus, went straight to face a news camera to talk about what we were dealing with and to speak on behalf of the university, straight from there down to our Greek row, because every woman that we lost that day, was connected to a different sorority, went from house to house to house, to share with them, to sit with them, to be with them. Finally, at some point, that night, I went home, and I just crumbled. But I couldn't crumble for long, because I had to get up and get back at it. The next day. During that week, we had a massive memorial service. Instead of having several over and over for weeks to come, we asked the families and the friends and the roommates and significant others if they would allow us to have one, so that we could come together as a community and grieve together. And it didn't stop there. Long after the news cameras were gone. Long after most folks on our campus had, you know, started moving on with life, I was still serving those parents almost on a daily basis, we were the last touch point for their child. So they kept coming back to us to memorialize their child to honor their child to ask questions, to unpack their room, or pack up their homes to take their things home to take care of their siblings who were also students. It continued for years, for years, to support those families with whatever they needed, the intensity changed, but the support continued. I remember one of my colleagues saying, and this was one of my colleagues who had been at Virginia Tech, when they had their crisis they're shooting. And this, this colleague said that Jackson, you're going to need a plan for the stuff. Like in the stuff, you're going to need a plan for all the stuff. I quickly learned what he meant. People sent angels and like statue angels, they sent money, they, they sent cards, they sent homemade things, they sent pictures from all over the world. People who did not know the families or who could not connect with the family sent things to us, to our university, and it was the responsibility of my office to figure out what to do with those things. Ask those families, do you want to receive these things? What would you like for us to do with them? The care for the students who were left the roommates, the best friends, the significant others, the sorority sisters, the care the the surround care, that they needed ongoing, it just continued. And I don't regret being there. I don't regret serving I truly believe I was called to it. I know. I don't just believe I know. I was called to that moment. And no I was equipped for it. I remember thinking just knowing the next thing to do just in my heart, just knowing the next thing to do just knowing the next thing to do. So I know I was called to that moment. But what I didn't realize was what the moment was costing me. I didn't stop to get counseling for myself, even though I was walking students to counseling almost on a daily basis. For weeks after that. I didn't stop to speak to my pastor or my minister. I talked to my husband of course I talked to my best friend but I did not stop to refill my cup. During those days, weeks, months when my empathy meter was over beyond high constantly. I didn't stop to count the cost on me because it was my job to serve Irv and I wanted to continue serving. That's just one example. That's just one example. I remember being in apartments of students who had passed away and holding their roommates, while the body of the deceased student was being taken out of the apartment, more than once, I've had to break the news to parents that their student had passed away. I've been in hearings about sexual assault, where survivors are telling their story. It goes on and on and on and on. This is the work. This is the work of the Dean of Students. My husband asked me one time he said, does everybody Dean like you, Dean? And and I don't know, I don't know the answer to that. But what I do know is, that's the work. This is real. Students go to college, they go to school, and a college is like a small city. And I'm not trying to make parents or college students nervous. College is still the best choice. And I know a lot of people are debating that right now I know you can make money without college, I get that. But the things that you learn in the comfort bubble of college, you can learn them, you can learn them in the real world, real world, but it's gonna cost you in college, you can learn those things under protection. In the real world, every lesson is going to cost you. And people with a degree can pivot a lot easier than people who don't have one bottom line. So I'm not trying to discourage anybody from college, I'm just telling my story. Anything that can happen in a city or a town can happen in a college campus, and any college campus that tells you that's not true, don't touch, don't trust them. It doesn't happen often, it doesn't happen to most most students go to college, and have no trauma at all. But some students experience trauma while they're in college. And those students have people who support them. And the people who support them, there's a cost for that is called compassion fatigue. There's a cost for that. I've even been in labor and delivery more than once, with students more than once because they didn't have anybody else. Or they just wanted, they had a connection with me, that wasn't a part of the job. It wasn't something that I was evaluated on. As a matter of fact, it's so my supervisors are listening, they might be shocked. They had no idea that that was even something that I was doing, and I wasn't being insubordinate. But when you love the people you serve, it's not about the job description. It's about the need. And what's allowable, of course, following all the rules, but what is needed in that moment for me it's ministry was needed, how do I serve best in this moment, and a lot of those situations where students needed to be served cost me too. And it's not just me that those are just my examples. But I'm thinking about the teachers who have children who come to school, knowing that those children are hungry, and don't have at home, knowing that that shoes are falling apart, or they're wearing the same clothes or did not come into the school clean. This is trauma, you're serving people who are going through trauma, or any social worker or counselor who's listening to the stories of your clients, and they're sharing what they've been through and you carry that. And your empathy meter is on high all the time, or the nurse who seeing the patients who make it and the patients who don't, and having to comfort and care for their family members. As they go through this roller coaster of what's going to happen. Are we going to make it out of this. What does that mean? What is this procedure, how we're going to pay for this? All of this cost the person who serves all of it cost the person who serves and we just think it's the job. It's the job and it is less not to it is it is the job, but we've got to stop and recognize that there's a cost to the job. And it's not because you're weak is not because you're inexperienced. It's not because you're not good at what you do is not even because you're not called to it is because it is what it is. There's a care tax attached to us serving well. It cost you to serve well. When you serve from a place of high empathy. And it's called compassion fatigue. And we have to stop and recognize In order to keep doing the work that we do, in order to do it well, in order to do the work that you're called to do, you have to recognize what you need. You have to assess how you approach work in life, so that you are not carrying the burdens, the multiplied burdens of all of the people, all of the people that you serve, is too much. And it's too heavy. So you got to figure out how to do the work you've been called to do, without carrying and paying the ultimate sacrifice yourself. And that's what we're going to learn here. That's what we're going to talk about, I feel compelled, I feel pressed to dig into compassion, fatigue, and to talk about what serving, ministering, teaching nursing cost. And those are just some examples. Those are not the only professionals. Think about HR directors who hear complaints day in and day out. There so many professionals think about the caregiver, who's at home, taking care of a family member with special needs or elderly, family members, somebody who can't care for themselves, compassion, fatigue, what it costs, do that work together. And we're going to walk through the heart work journey, so that you can figure out how to shield and care for yourself while you're caring for others. Listen to that, again, we're going to learn how to shield and care for yourself. Wow, you're serving and caring for others. There is a cost. But it doesn't have to cost you everything. So that's what we're doing. Friend, there's a name for it. There's a name for it. The loss of interest, the loss of even empathy, the thought of I can't care anymore. It costs too much. It hurts too much. I can't care anymore. It's called compassion fatigue. And we're gonna address it together. So y'all keep ran with me. Keep walking through this with me. We're gonna be here for a few weeks because this is just where I feel like we need to be. I hope you hear my heart and I hope your heart is resorbed rejoice into know that there is a name for it. And there's something you can do about it. Okay. As always, you are powerful. You are significant. And you not just the people you serve, but you are loved. Love always PBJ